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Favorite Things

Favorite Things: Gerald Arpino's Light Rain

- By Nicole Duffy Robertson

(Walter McBride/WM Photos) Dancers: Valerie Robin and Fabrice Calmels

What does it mean when a ballet continues to ignite controversy decades after it was first performed? Unlike Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring, which caused riots at its premiere in 1913, but was revived seventy-five years later to standing ovations, Gerald Arpino’s ballet Light Rain (1981) continues to elicit a clear critical split: audiences tend to love it, critics less so (or more interestingly, feel guilty about liking it).1 Light Rain straddles the divide between high vs. popular art, in no small part because of its unabashed celebration of a...

Favorite Things

Favorite Things

- By Tanya Jayani Fernando

In On Beauty and Being Just, Elaine Scarry says that when we find something beautiful we have the urge to share it. I sent a link to a beautiful performance to Massachusetts Review editor Jim Hicks, and he thought of “Favorite Things,” a blog series where artists, scholars, and friends of the performing arts share a piece and allow others to encounter it, perhaps for the first time, perhaps again.  

Through beauty’s encounter, Scarry argues, we begin to imagine life otherwise—as just. She offers us Homer, Dante, Leonardo, Matisse: art for the ages. A century earlier in What Is Art?, though beauty is not the category Tolstoy uses, he is adamant that a work attains the pinnacle of art only when it soars through the ages in its...

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